7 Reasons Email Marketing is Not Working for You and How to Fix It

irina pichura

Email marketing has been a powerful tool for business owners, sole proprietors, affiliate marketers, and others for decades. It's one of the top online business skills both sought and taught, with new courses and "experts" popping up every day. But these days, there are many businesses struggling to make email marketing work for them. Some are even going as far as to declare it dead. The problem, however, is not in email marketing itself, but in the way, it is being executed. Email marketing is not dead; it has simply evolved from what we've known for many years. Those who do not evolve with it are going to be left in the dust. Here are seven reasons email marketing probably isn't working for you, and how you can correct them to see an immediate improvement.


You haven't done enough (if any) market research. Of course, market research is part of business 101, but there is a difference between the basic research that's required for business and the in-depth, detailed research that's required for meaningful customer connections.Basic market research means you know your average customer is male in their late 40s with a college degree and interest in recreational fly fishing. Detailed research means you know that your customer, Dave, is a married man in his late 40s, who lives in Montana, has three sons and loves to go fly fishing on the weekends in the summer. He last purchased three new rods from your store about a month ago, and it's now June.The email you'd most likely send someone who you've done basic research on is going to be far more generic than the email you will send Dave. Which one do you think is more likely to connect with your customer? It's a good idea to revisit your market research info, especially if it's been more than a year since it was done. Learn how to create a customer avatar and create at least three of them for your customer base. Then use this new market data and avatars, and adjust your specific approach into email!2. EMAILS ARE NOT PERSONALIZED Now, it's probably not very plausible for you to create and send a custom email to every customer. This is where segmentation and triggered emails come into play.Beyond the simple customization tags like "Dear First Name," sending content that is relevant to your customers and their particular interests, buying habits, history, and more will make every email feel more like it was written just for them.For example, you will need to send customers who haven't visited your shop/site in a while different content than those who are frequent visitors/buyers. You will also probably send these emails at different times and different frequency.  Think about the average life cycle of your customers. What actions are normally taken? For example, do they typically require 3-5 visits to a sales page before making a purchase? Do they usually make a smaller purchase before making a larger one (this is usually true)?When customers cancel service or want a refund, how do you handle the follow-up? All of these actions taken by a customer, including longer periods of inaction, should trigger specific email sequences or put them on different lists to receive more customized content.


Here's a cycle that may seem familiar: sporadic email campaigns are getting less and less opens, almost no clicks, and more opt-outs than ever before. The solution is obvious: more frequent, regular blasts are needed to keep you top-of-mind and customers "engaged." You begin sending twice-a-month letters. For a while, the opens and clicks seem to increase. However, then the decline begins again, so you increase the frequency to once a week.This is a cycle that many business owners get trapped in the idea that more is better. But the problem is probably not the frequency of your emails but their content. As mentioned above (and below), your emails need to feel tailor-made for your customers. The more you send generic emails that don't genuinely connect with someone, the more often you're going to be ignored until finally, customers simply jump ship.The frequency with which you email those who've never purchased from you (or haven't in a long time) should be different than the frequency with which you email those who constantly purchase from you. The timing of these emails will be different, and of course, the followup content will be different. It will take time and maintenance, but this setup is crucial to your success with email.


There was once a time when all emails were viewed from the same type of screen that was roughly the same size. In fact, this is how emails were viewed for many years. Today, however, emails are sent and received from a multitude of different devices and with a multitude of screen sizes. You've probably heard it before, but you absolutely must have a mobile-first and responsive design. There's very little point in designing the perfect email for your work laptop when more than half of your customers open their email on their mobile phone. Spend some time (and yes, money) developing at least one solid design that is optimized for mobile devices. Bonus points if you are able to develop a few designs which can be used for different types of content.


Understandably, you are probably being pulled in many directions, and email may be something you consider a necessary evil. But customers are smart enough to know when you're phoning it in, and will definitely respond in kind. Part of the reason many business owners don't dedicate the time and effort necessary for successful email marketing is they don't know where to begin or how to really make it work for them. Hopefully, this article has solved a few of these issues. Next, you will need to dig into some specifics.Think about your business, including why you started it, why you do what you do, and who your products/services target. Pair this information with the thorough market research you or your team has done, and you will begin to generate interest in reaching your customers through email and ideas on how to do so. It also helps to have brainstorming and training sessions with your marketing/sales team, and whoever will actually be managing your email marketing.


Here's the hard truth about customers: they just want to know what's in it for them. You may think that your carefully-designed blast about a terrific Memorial Day sale is for the customers because it could save them lots of money, but, unless the products on sale are exactly what they've been looking for,  they are likely to just see a cash-grab from you.Successful email campaigns need more than company updates and sales content/ads. You will need to provide content that is insightful, interesting, and helpful to the reader in some way. This is the only way they will continue to open your emails and keep reading them. A great place to start generating ideas for helpful content is to think of all of the questions or problems customers have presented to you in the past.  What are the top questions you receive? What types of problems do you/your products solve on a regular basis? What genius ways have you seen customers using your products that others may not have thought of? These topics can generate literally months worth of email content that can also be customized to the various list segments and triggers you've developed.


Last but not least, you absolutely must be consistent. This is possibly the number one issue facing most small businesses in email marketing. Consistency not only means you have to send out content on a regular basis (on a schedule you've deemed appropriate for your particular audiences), but you must also carry a consistent voice, branding, and follow through.For example, keep only two or three email designs in rotation at any given time. One should be reserved for regular content emails, and you may have one for sales/special announcements, and one for holidays or similar. Customers can then become familiar with your emails, and scan/read them in whatever way they prefer. Constantly changing email layouts just serve to frustrate readers, who will go hunting for that "unsubscribe" button. Within your email designs, you should keep the same branding as you use everywhere in your business, like storefronts, websites, social media, etc.It's very common these days for companies of all sizes to outsource things like blog, copy, and email writing. This is a great way to take some work off your plate and keep the content fresh. However, it's very important that all of the content be written with the same voice. This means if your emails usually have a more casual tone, they all need to be written this way. Or if they have a style or flow, they need to all follow the same guidelines. Words, phrases, and vocabulary should be roughly the same so that all emails seem as though they're coming from one person.To accomplish this, it's a good idea to have a small handful of trusted writers (whether in your company or outsourced), a specific style guide, and a trusted person to proofread any new writer's emails for at least a month to be sure their content fits your brand.If you do any amount of research into email usage today, it's clear to see that email is not dead, and neither is email marketing. But if you look at how email is used today, you'll see a vastly different picture than one from 1998. Email marketing must change accordingly. With these tips, you will be well on your way to increasing your opens, clicks, customer satisfaction, and even your bottom line.Are you brand new to entrepreneurship and need some help, support, and guidance? I have just the tribe for you! Join my private Facebook group - Behind the Business where you’ll find just that!

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